Friday, April 26, 2024

Scholar Ben always listened to granny

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HIGH ACHIEVER: Macleans College student Ben Zhang scored the highest in New Zealand at the CIE. Times photo Wayne Martin.

Ben Zhang is convinced that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything you want.

And who should know it better than this high achieving, just-turned-17 Macleans College student. Ben has topped New Zealand in English Literature, Chemistry and received the best across three Cambridge International A Levels in the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

Ben admits he was shocked to discover he scored the highest in New Zealand, the best across three A Level subjects.

“It’s the highest combined score in the whole country,” he says.

It earned him the top Cambridge Scholarship of $10,000.

The deputy head prefect of Macleans College attributes it to paying heed to his grandmother’s advice.

“When I was younger, my grandmother used to tutor me in maths and science. She used to tell me to study one hour a day, every day of the year. If you do that every day, it helps,” he says.

This disciplined approach has helped him not only to study ahead and appear for Year 13 exams in Year 12 but also score high academically.

“I make sure I finish all my homework in school so that I can read further and make notes at home,” he says.

He’s also opted for subjects like Earth and Space Science that are not taught at school and relies on extra self study to score high.

Excelling in English Literature Cambridge International A Levels with a score of 297 is a big feat for Ben who moved to New Zealand from overseas in 2006.

“I wasn’t very good in English and it was one of my weaker subjects at intermediate school. I dedicated all my time at high school to excel in the English language,” says the young scholar, who has also completed nine NZQA scholarship exams.

Ben who is fully engaged with extracurricular activities and  plays tennis and volleyball as well sing in the choir and play in the school concert band, believes that asking questions and getting the teacher’s guidance on where to look for answers, helps.

When Ben is not playing sport or studying hard, he volunteers on weekdays from 4pm-9pm on the Kids Helpline.

“We do phone counselling for children and youth from ages of 8-18. We listen to the youth and offer peer support. I have been doing it for a year now,” he says.

Ben believes “exam time means consolidating all that you have learnt,”and says he is going to pursue biomedicine at university.

“I will be applying at Ivy League American universities.”

Having visited Georgia last year as part of a team that represented New Zealand at the International Chemistry Olympiad, Ben got a taste of life beyond the boundaries of a country.

“The people are nice, the food is amazing and being with 300 other kids who are focused and brilliant at an international competition, made me strive for the best,” he says.

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